Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tell me more about this marbles analogy...

Sure. And please note its not that I'm calling the folks on my team a bunch of marbles. Rather, the marbles are the issues a manager has to deal with every day. The point is, there's no focus on one single thing, like there is for an engineer. A manager has to be able to deal with a little bit of everything, and context switch almost constantly. One moment you're advising product management on the feasibility of a new feature, and the next you're deciding if a bug should be fixed or deferred, or being asked for advice on a topic you may know little about. Then, you've got recruiting to do, performance reviews to think about, and perhaps an action item or two you took in your last meeting. Sometimes you're reacting to a fire, and other times you're thinking proactively about change. For the manager, responsibilities are all over the map.

For the engineers that you manage, it should ideally be the opposite. Their job is to take on a coding project and get deep into the weeds with it. The more minutiae and boring (in their mind) meetings you can shield them from, the more the good engineers will thank you, and the more productive they will be. They don't want to be discussing the requirements...they want to be coding them.

If I were to title a different blog about the mindset of an engineer, it might be called "Getting the real work done." In fact, letting go of that mentality, that feeling of "I'm not being useful unless I'm coding," was one of my biggest struggles when I transitioned into management, but that's a story for another post.

No comments:

Post a Comment